The year 2002 – with the second Gulf War looming and bird flu at its zenith – was, on the face of it, not an auspicious time to launch as a tour operator. But fast forward to 2015, and The Turquoise Holiday Company was rewarded for its tenacity by scooping one of the biggest awards in travel: Best Tour Operator at Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Travel Awards. It has since received this accolade twice more, adding Best Tour Operator at The Telegraph Travel Awards 2018.
The company has come a long way from when its founders left their comfortable but unfulfilling jobs and set up with just one computer and a world of ambition. Their aim was to create an innovative, upmarket brand that put the glamour and romance back into travel and the name was inspired by the colour of the oceans surrounding their favourite destinations. ‘Though we’re a small company, we punch above our weight, delivering memorable trips time and time again,’ says managing director James Bell.
Turquoise is constantly redefining what ‘luxury travel’ means. ‘For some, it’s five-star service, fine dining and chandeliers; for others it’s remote outposts’
A more constant challenge is that, with so much information available to consumers online and through social media, and other companies selling what appear to be similar holidays at lower prices, it is not easy to succeed as an entirely consumer-driven, service-led business.
Despite this, more clients are coming in to Turquoise’s London and Beaconsfield shops for a drink, to get the maps out and to have a friendly chat about all things travel. ‘We adore this face to face interaction,’ says Bell. In the same vein, 2019 saw the brand launch its first journal, CANVAS, featuring the Samburu mamas of Laikipia in northern Kenya, who run a small business making crafts and jewellery through the Samburu Trust. ‘We commissioned the mamas to make us a turquoise beaded bracelet to send to our clients with their copy of CANVAS.’
As a Turquoise traveller, you will receive your documents tied up with a turquoise ribbon and a handwritten ‘happy holiday’ note in turquoise ink. For this family-owned and run business, it’s all about the detail. ‘I am proud we’re discovering new places, delivering good old-fashioned customer service and the perfect holiday for every client,’ says Bell, ‘and finally proud of our company, the brand and each other.’